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New York Giants position battle to watch for in training camp: Tight end

We’re just a little over a month away until the New York Giants report to training camp under new head coach Brian Daboll.

One of the most intriguing position battles to watch for heading into training camp is the starting tight end spot.

For the first time since 2016, New York’s roster will not have Evan Engram as the former 2017 first-round pick left via free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Despite his inconsistent play, Engram’s departure leaves a void in New York’s offense, and Daboll will need to insert someone to be a reliable target for Daniel Jones.

Now the question is, who will be that target?

Related: Everything you need to know about New York Giants training camp

Three players vying to be New York Giants starting tight end

new york giants:  daniel bellinger
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The three players set to compete to be the starter will be free agent acquisitions Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins as well as rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger.

This will be Seals-Jones fifth different team in his six seasons in the NFL. He’s previously played for the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Commanders.

He’s been primarily a backup for his career as he’s started only 15 of the 54 games he’s appeared in. For his career, Seals-Jones has 90 receptions for 1,044 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 27-year-old tight end does have familiarity with new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka when he was on the Chiefs in 2020. But time will tell if Seals-Jones is ready to be a starter.

The 30-year-old Akins is the other veteran who will be battling to be the starter. The former third-round pick in the 2018 draft has played all four of his seasons with the Houston Texans, catching 114 passes for 1,260 yards and three touchdowns.

Akins is a tremendous athlete. He was actually drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the MLB draft. However, after struggling in the minor leagues he decided to go to college at UCF in 2013 and pursue a football career. Now nine years later, he has a chance to be a starting tight end in the NFL.

Related: New York Giants star Saquon Barkley is poised to have a bounce-back season

Although Seals-Jones and Akins have significant playing experience, the early favorite to be the starter is Daniel Bellinger. In his four years at San Diego State, he caught 68 passes for 771 yards and five touchdowns.

Despite the fact that he played in a run-heavy offense, he showed remarkable hands as he had one of the lowest drop rates among all tight ends in this draft class. He was utilized often in OTAs and seemed to have already developed chemistry with Daniel Jones.

“I think I have a lot to show and of course a lot to improve on. So that’s another thing is I want to come out and show that I can be a receiver and not just a blocker but also both. Just be a hybrid and help the offense, whether it is blocking or whether it is pass catching.”

New York Giants rookie Daniel Bellinger during OTAs, via Giants.com

Now we’ll have to see how he can perform at the next level in pads when training camp starts.

The Giants’ passing game will rely heavily on Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Saquon Barkley. But we know from Daboll’s time with the Buffalo Bills, and Kafka’s time with the Chiefs, that the tight will play a huge role in the offense. This is why the tight end battle will be one of the most important position battles this summer for the New York Giants.

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